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IMPOSSIBLE man, you have set someone to watch the doings of your young wife. It is quite useless. A woman's only armour is her virtue. She alone is chaste who is not kept Chaste by fear. She who sins not because she must not, sins, just the same. You may keep her body intact, but

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she's a rake at heart. You can't keep watch upon a woman's thoughts. Nor, indeed, though you bolt and bar every door, can you safeguard her body. Though you think to keep the whole world out, there'll be a traitor within. Whoso is free to err, to err is less inclined. The very power to sin weakens the seed of vice. Do not, I pray you, prick on her desire by putting restraints upon her. Be easy with her and you'll gain your end more readily,

It was only the other day I saw a horse, impatient of the curb, rushing along with the speed of lightning; and then, no sooner did he feel the reins lying loose upon his neck, than he calmly came to a standstill. We are always eager for forbidden things, and yearn for what is denied us, like the sick man who longs for water because his doctor forbids him to drink it.

A hundred eyes had Argus in his forehead, a hundred eyes behind, but Love was often one too many for him. Danaë was immured a virgin in her eternal chamber of rock and bronze, yet Danaë became a mother. Penelope, though there was none to guard her, remained undefiled among a host of young and lusty suitors.

The more carefully a thing is guarded, the more we long for it. All this watchfulness and fuss is merely inviting the attentions of the robber. Few people want the pleasures they are free to take. It's not your wife's good looks, it's the fuss you make of her that makes men want your wife. They think she must be wonderful indeed thus to have captivated you. She may be a faithless baggage, the woman whom her husband guards so jealously; she may be a strumpet; she's, all the same, a treasure. The risks one runs in order to possess her count even more than the object possessed. A fig for your indignation! I tell you, I only love forbidden pleasures. The only woman I care to have is the one that says "I'm terrified." Moreover, you've no right to treat a freeborn woman like a slave. You should only use foreign

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importations so. Doubtless you want her keeper to say, "I kept her chaste." You want your slave, I suppose, to get all the credit.

A man must really be a bumpkin who takes his wife's unfaithfulness to heart. He can't know much about the morals of the Capital. Why Ilia, who bore both Romulus and Remus after her affair with Mars, was not exactly a paragon of virtue. Why go and marry a pretty woman, if you want a virtuous wife? Good looks and virtue don't go hand in hand.

If you're a wise man, you'll give her a little more rope; you'll look a bit more amiable and not be always playing the stern husband and preaching about your rights. And cultivate the friends your wife will bring you; there will be no lack of them. You'll thus get the maximum of credit with the minimum of cost. Thus you'll always have plenty of gay young sparks around you and see about the house all manner of nice things you never had to pay for.


Dure vir, inposito tenerae custode puellae
    nil agis; ingenio est quaeque tuenda suo.
siqua metu dempto casta est, ea denique casta est;
    quae, quia non liceat, non facit, illa facit!
ut iam servaris bene corpus, adultera mens est;
    nec custodiri, ne velit, ulla potest.
nec corpus servare potes, licet omnia claudas;
    omnibus exclusis intus adulter erit.
cui peccare licet, peccat minus; ipsa potestas
     semina nequitiae languidiora facit.
desine, crede mihi, vitia inritare vetando;
    obsequio vinces aptius illa tuo.
Vidi ego nuper equum contra sua vincla tenacem
    ore reluctanti fulminis ire modo;
constitit ut primum concessas sensit habenas
    frenaque in effusa laxa iacere iuba!
nitimur in vetitum semper cupimusque negata;
    sic interdictis imminet aeger aquis.
centum fronte oculos, centum cervice gerebat
    Argus--et hos unus saepe fefellit Amor;
in thalamum Danae ferro saxoque perennem
    quae fuerat virgo tradita, mater erat;
Penelope mansit, quamvis custode carebat,
    inter tot iuvenes intemerata procos.
Quidquid servatur cupimus magis, ipsaque furem
    cura vocat; pauci, quod sinit alter, amant.
nec facie placet illa sua, sed amore mariti;
    nescio quid, quod te ceperit, esse putant.
non proba fit, quam vir servat, sed adultera cara;
    ipse timor pretium corpore maius habet.
indignere licet, iuvat inconcessa voluptas;
    sola placet, 'timeo!' dicere siqua potest.
nec tamen ingenuam ius est servare puellam--
    hic metus externae corpora gentis agat!
scilicet ut possit custos 'ego' dicere 'feci,'
    in laudem servi casta sit illa tui?
Rusticus est nimium, quem laedit adultera coniunx,
    et notos mores non satis urbis habet
in qua Martigenae non sunt sine crimine nati
    Romulus Iliades Iliadesque Remus.
quo tibi formosam, si non nisi casta placebat?
    non possunt ullis ista coire modis.
Si sapis, indulge dominae vultusque severos
    exue, nec rigidi iura tuere viri,
et cole quos dederit--multos dabit--uxor amicos.
    gratia sic minimo magna labore venit;
sic poteris iuvenum convivia semper inire
    et, quae non dederis, multa videre domi.

Next: Elegy V: A Dream.